The FENS Forum 2020 Plenary and Special Lecture speakers address these questions and more for you.

  • What are the learning objectives of your session?
  • What is the importance of the topic?
  • What are the recommended readings ahead of your session?

Find out what these leaders in neuroscience had to share with the community and stay tuned for new additions!

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Andreas Meyer-Lindenberg

Neural mechanisms of environmental risk for psychiatric disorders.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

The lecture is about Neural mechanisms of environmental risk for psychiatric disorders. Risk factors such as city life, migration or social status are well known but how they influence brain function and structure to make people liable to mental illness is just coming into focus, as this lecture will explain.

Why is this topic important?

Mental disorders cost more than 500 billion euros in the EU annually and are the main source of disease burden in the young and working population. The appropriate medical response to a problem of this size is prevention, for which one needs to understand how components of the environment influence the brain. As urbanization, migration and climate change subject humans to ecological changes of unprecedented rapidity we hope that this work helps in identifying resilience factors and mitigate risk exposures that further mental health and well-being.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Tost, H., F. A. Champagne and A. Meyer-Lindenberg (2015). “Environmental influence in the brain, human welfare and mental health.” Nat Neurosci 18(10): 1421-1431.

Tost, H., M. Reichert, U. Braun, I. Reinhard, R. Peters, S. Lautenbach, A. Hoell, E. Schwarz, U. Ebner-Priemer, A. Zipf and A. Meyer-Lindenberg (2019). “Neural correlates of individual differences in affective benefit of real-life urban green space exposure.” Nat Neurosci.

van den Bosch, M. and A. Meyer-Lindenberg (2019). “Environmental Exposures and Depression: Biological Mechanisms and Epidemiological Evidence.” Annu Rev Public Health.

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Angela Roberts

Prefrontal circuits related to anxiety and anhedonia

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture

There are multiple, interacting, cognitively specific circuits within primate prefrontal cortex contributing to emotion regulation. The surprisingly distinct developmental trajectories of these circuits highlight the possibility that stress, a key risk factor for affective disorder onset, may induce distinct patterns of cognitive and emotional deficits at different developmental stages.

Why is this topic important?

Anxiety and anhedonia are core symptoms of a number of neurodevelopmental, psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The mixed aetiology of these symptoms however underlies the high variability in overall treatment success. A detailed understanding therefore, of the prefrontal circuits that, if dysregulated, can lead to an anxiety-like and anhedonia-like phenotype is an important step along the pathway to the development of novel treatment strategies and individualised therapy.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Roberts, A.C. (2020) Prefrontal Regulation of Threat-Elicited Behaviors: A Pathway to Translation. Annual Review of Psychology. epub ahead of print

Alexander, A., Clarke, H.F., Roberts, A.C. A Focus on the functions of area 25. (2019) Brain Sciences 9:129.

Sawiak S.J., Shiba Y., Oikonomidis L., Windle C.P., Santangelo A.M., Grydeland H., Cockcroft G., Bullmore E.T, Roberts A.C.  Trajectories and milestones of cortical and subcortical development of the marmoset brain from infancy to adulthood.  (2018) Cerebral Cortex 28:4440-4453.

FENS 2020 - Anita Luthi

Anita Luthi

Mammalian sleep, varying in space and time.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture

Mammalian sleep is dynamic in space and time, with transition zones combining elements of sleep and wakefulness in the brain. I will describe neuronal and behavioural correlates of transition zones, how these advance insight into sleep-wake processes and help to refine options to benefit from, and to treat sleep.

Why is this topic important?

Sleep and wake are commonly considered mutually exclusive. However, it becomes increasingly clear that we need to consider transition zones between these states if we are to understand debilitating disorders, such as insomnias or parasomnias, but also just drowsiness or fatigue. Transition zones renew the concept of waking up from sleep because they reveal an underlying network of global and local interactions between central and autonomic neural systems.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Lecci, S., Fernandez, L. M. J., Weber, F. D., Cardis, R., Chatton, J.-Y., Born, J.,Lüthi A. (2017). Coordinated infraslow neural and cardiac oscillations mark fragility and offline periods in mammalian sleep. Sci. Adv. 3:e1602026.
doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1602026

Fernandez LMJ, Vantomme G, Osorio-Forero A, Cardis R, Béard E, Lüthi A. (2018) Thalamic reticular control of local sleep in mouse sensory cortex. Elife 7. pii: e39111.
doi: 10.7554/eLife.39111.

Fernandez, LMJ, Lüthi A. (2020) Sleep spindles: mechanisms and functions. Physiol. Rev.
doi: 10.1152/physrev.00042.2018. [Epub ahead of print]

Vantomme G, Osorio-Forero A, Lüthi A, Fernandez LMJ. (2019) Thalamic reticular control of local sleep. Front Neurosci 3:576.
doi: 10.3389/fnins.2019.00576.

Castelnovo A, Lopez R, Proserpio P, Nobili L, Dauvilliers Y . NREM sleep parasomnias as disorders of sleep-state dissociation. Nat Rev Neurol. (2018) 14(8):470-481.
doi: 10.1038/s41582-018-0030-y.

Siclari F, Tononi G. Curr Opin Neurobiol. Local aspects of sleep and wakefulness. (2017) 44:222-227.
doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2017.05.008.

Halász, P., Terzano, M., Parrino, L., and Bódizs, R. (2004). The nature of arousal in sleep. J. Sleep Res. 13, 1–23.
doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2869.2004.00388.x

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Carla Shatz

Synapses lost and found: developmental critical periods and Alzheimer’s Disease. 

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

In this lecture we will consider mechanisms of activity-dependent synapse pruning during a normal developmental critical period and how this knowledge of a fundamental developmental process has led to the discovery of an innate immune receptor for soluble oligomers of beta amyloid expressed by cortical neurons, and a new way of thinking about therapeutic approaches to treating Alzheimer’s disease.

Why is this topic important?

There is enormous interest in mechanisms controlling pruning and removal of synapses in both health and disease. Given recent disappointing failures of clinical trials for Alzheimer’s disease, new approaches are urgently needed.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Activity-dependent modulation of hippocampal synaptic plasticity via PirB and endocannabinoids. Djurisic M, Brott BK, Saw NL, Shamloo M, Shatz CJ. Mol Psychiatry. 2019 Aug;24(8):1206-1219

Neuron-Glia Signaling in Synapse Elimination. Wilton DK, Dissing-Olesen L, Stevens B. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2019 Jul 8;42:107-127.

Synapse elimination and learning rules co-regulated by MHC class I H2-Db. Lee H, Brott BK, Kirkby LA, Adelson JD, Cheng S, Feller MB, Datwani A, Shatz CJ. Nature. 2014 May 8;509(7499):195-200

Human LilrB2 is a β-amyloid receptor and its murine homolog PirB regulates synaptic plasticity in an Alzheimer’s model. Kim T, Vidal GS, Djurisic M, William CM, Birnbaum ME, Garcia KC, Hyman BT, Shatz CJ. Science. 2013 Sep 20;341(6152):1399-404

MHC class I: an unexpected role in neuronal plasticity. Shatz CJ. Neuron. 2009 Oct 15;64(1):40-5

Mechanisms underlying development of visual maps and receptive fields. Huberman AD, Feller MB, Chapman B. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2008;31:479-509.

FENS 2020 - Erin Schuman

Erin Schuman

Local protein synthesis in neurons. 

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

An individual neuron in the brain possesses approximately 10,000 synapses, many of which are hundreds of microns away from the cell body. Synapses can process independent streams of information. During synaptic transmission and plasticity, remodeling of the local proteome occurs via the regulated synthesis and degradation of new proteins. How this is accomplished mechanistically is not known.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

The Central Dogma Decentralized: New Perspectives on RNA Function and Local Translation in Neurons
Christine E.Holt, Erin M.Schuman

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Hugues Chabriat

CADASIL: a clinical model of ischemic small vessel disease.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

A large number of magnetic resonance imaging markers are detected with aging or in stroke patients. Their exact pathophysiology remains largely undetermined. CADASIL represents a unique model for exploring the origin, clinical consequences and development of these lesions. The main lessons of research in this area will be presented.

Why is this topic important?

Understanding small vessel disease imaging markers is essential to better understand their clinical impact, their development, and their potential usefulness for developing prevention and future therapeutic trials in cerebral small vessel diseases.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

CADASIL. Chabriat H, Joutel A, Dichgans M, Tournier-Lasserve E, Bousser MG. Lancet Neurol. 2009 Jul;8(7):643-53.

Brain atrophy is related to lacunar lesions and tissue microstructural changes in CADASIL. Jouvent E, Viswanathan A, Mangin JF, O’Sullivan M, Guichard JP, Gschwendtner A, Cumurciuc R, Buffon F, Peters N, Pachaï C, Bousser MG, Dichgans M, Chabriat H. Stroke. 2007 Jun;38(6):1786-90.

Impact of MRI markers in subcortical vascular dementia: a multi-modal analysis in CADASIL.Viswanathan A, Godin O, Jouvent E, O’Sullivan M, Gschwendtner A, Peters N, Duering M, Guichard JP, Holtmannspötter M, Dufouil C, Pachai C, Bousser MG, Dichgans M, Chabriat H. Neurobiol Aging. 2010 Sep;31(9):1629-36.

Neuroimaging standards for research into small vessel disease and its contribution to ageing and neurodegeneration. Wardlaw JM, Smith EE, Biessels GJ, Cordonnier C, Fazekas F, Frayne R, Lindley RI, O’Brien JT, Barkhof F, Benavente OR, Black SE, Brayne C, Breteler M, Chabriat H, Decarli C, de Leeuw FE, Doubal F, Duering M, Fox NC, Greenberg S, Hachinski V, Kilimann I, Mok V, Oostenbrugge Rv, Pantoni L, Speck O, Stephan BC, Teipel S, Viswanathan A, Werring D, Chen C, Smith C, van Buchem M, Norrving B, Gorelick PB, Dichgans M. Lancet Neurol. 2013 Aug;12(8):822-38.

Different Types of White Matter Hyperintensities in CADASIL. Duchesnay E, Hadj Selem F, De Guio F, Dubois M, Mangin JF, Duering M, Ropele S, Schmidt R, Dichgans M, Chabriat H, Jouvent E. Front Neurol. 2018 Jul 10;9:526

Pathogenesis of white matter changes in cerebral small vessel diseases: beyond vessel-intrinsic mechanisms. Joutel A, Chabriat H. Clin Sci (Lond). 2017 Apr 25;131(8):635-651.

FENS 2020, Jan Born

Jan Born

Sleep’s role in memory consolidation.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

Memory representations newly encoded during wakefulness are reprocessed during subsequent sleep. This reprocessing promotes a systems consolidation process that is hippocampus-dependent and gradually transforms the representations into more persisting ones that keep the gist of the originally encoded experience.

Why is this topic important?

Forming long-term memory for gist information might represent the major function of sleep, explaining why sleep is an evolutionary well preserved brain state.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Klinzing JG, Niethard N, Born J (2019) Mechanisms of systems memory consolidation during sleep. Nature neuroscience 22 (10), 1598-1610. This is an update of our “Active Systems Consolidation” concept of memory formation during sleep that integrates a large body of findings in this research field. (DOI: 10.1038/s41593-019-0467-3)

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Laurence Hunt

Prefrontal circuits for decision making.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

My lecture will discuss the contribution of different subregions of prefrontal cortex to reward-guided decision making. By recording populations of neurons from macaque orbitofronal, anterior cingulate and dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during an attention-guided decision making task, we have isolated the unique computations performed by each subregion as a decision is formed.

Why is this topic important?

The prefrontal cortex is one of the regions that has expanded most during primate and human evolution. It underlies our most sophisticated cognitive abilities. Understanding the neural basis of these abilities may be particularly relevant to the current ‘hot topic’ of artificial intelligence, which explores how we can train artificial agents to perform sophisticated cognitive tasks that likely depend upon prefrontal cortex in primates.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Triple Dissociation of Attention and Decision Computations across Prefrontal Cortex, Hunt et al. Nature Neuroscience 2018 (open access version available:

A distributed, hierarchical and recurrent framework for reward-based choice, Hunt and Hayden, Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2017 (open access version available:

Why is FENS important for European and global neuroscience?

Neuroscience is a highly interdisciplinary field. FENS is important in that it brings together neuroscientists working in a very wide range of different backgrounds and on different topics. It provides a unique opportunity to gain an overview of current neuroscience research, ranging from cellular and molecular studies all the way up to studying systems and cognitive neuroscience.

What have been key breakthroughs since FENS 2018?

A major breakthrough has been the release of new recording technologies to record large numbers of single units simultaneously (NeuroPixels). I look forward to seeing the first wave of results with these electrodes presented at FENS 2020.

FENS 2020 - Rosa Cossart

Rosa Cossart

How development scaffolds adult hippocampal dynamics.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

Despite a prominent role in memory and spatial navigation, the hippocampus hosts a remarkably stable functional organization, in the form of discrete assemblies shaped by GABAergic circuits, including hub cells. Using the recent development of all optical methods to record and manipulate neuronal activity in vivo, this lecture will show how development shapes the final wiring diagram of adult hippocampal assemblies.

What is the importance of the topic?

It is important to unravel the key circuits and critical developmental time points for the establishment of functional hippocampal circuits in order to gain a better understanding of developmental disorders such as autism or schizophrenia.

In the framework of trying to link circuits to behavior (a hot topic), it is important to acknowledge the fact that cortical circuits do not simply represent the outside world but generate self-organized internal dynamics.

In the framework of understanding and describing cellular diversity in the cortex (through large-scale omics, a hot topic), acknowledging the existence of rare but highly connected neurons, such as hub cells is important.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your session?

Bonifazi et al. Science 2009, Malvache et al. Science 2016, Buzsaki and Tingley. Trends in Cognitive Science 2018

Why is FENS important for European and global neuroscience?

  • To identify the strengths and specificities of neuroscience research done in Europe in order to foster new collaborations and create competitive consortia.
  • To provide a showcase for European neuroscience to the world.
  • To provide a global picture of European Neuroscience
  • To identify areas of improvement and support for well-being at work and minorities.

What have been key breakthroughs since FENS 2018?

High density sampling of neuronal activity at a large scale in vivo (neuropixels, voltage and calcium microscopy, etc).

FENS 2020 - Seth Grant

Seth Grant

The synaptome: an epic journey in time and space.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

To introduce the synaptome – the diversity of synapses in the brain – and the spatial and temporal organization of this diversity into the lifespan synaptome architecture. That there is a hierarchy of molecular organisational principles from the genome to the synaptome architecture. Synapse diversity is a mechanism for storage and recall of behaviour.

Why the topic is important

The molecular composition of synapses and the synaptome architecture is altered in most brain diseases. The hierarchical mechanisms of synaptome architecture provides a framework for understanding the evolution of the brain and how the diverse behavioural repertoire evolved, and why it changes across the lifespan.

Recommended reading

Bayes, A., van de Lagemaat, L.N., Collins, M.O., Croning, M.D., Whittle, I.R., Choudhary, J.S. & Grant, S.G. (2011) Characterization of the proteome, diseases and evolution of the human postsynaptic density. Nature neuroscience, 14, 19-21.

Grant, S.G. (2019) The synaptomic theory of behavior and brain disease. Vol. 83, Cold Spring Harbor symposia on quantitative biology. Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, City. p. 45-56.

Zhu, F., Cizeron, M., Qiu, Z., Benavides-Piccione, R., Kopanitsa, M.V., Skene, N.G., Koniaris, B., DeFelipe, J., Fransen, E., Komiyama, N.H. & Grant, S.G.N. (2018) Architecture of the Mouse Brain Synaptome. Neuron, 99, 781-799 e710.

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Sheena Josselyn

The amygdala and memory: recalling the past, imaging the future.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

Understanding how the brain acquires, stores and uses information is a fundamental goal of neuroscience. As several human disorders (from autism spectrum disorder to Alzheimer’s disease) may stem from disrupted information processing, this basic knowledge is not only critical for understanding normal brain function, but also for the development of new treatment strategies.

Recently, with the introduction of new technologies allowing researchers to image and manipulate the brain of rodents at the level of individual neuron has reinvigorated memory research.

Memory, the ability to use the past in service of the present or future, is a hugely important topic. Memory is central to our everyday lives and defines who we are. Without it, we are condemned to an eternal present.

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Tara Spires-Jones

Neuron-Glia interactions in synapse degeneration in Alzheimer’s Disease.

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

In my lecture, attendees will learn about synaptic pathology in Alzheimer’s disease and our progress on understanding mechanisms underlying this pathology, and how we might prevent or reverse synaptic damage in future.

Why is this topic important?

Dementia affects more than 50 million people worldwide, and we currently do not have any treatments that can modify the course of the disease.  Synapse degeneration is the strongest pathological correlate of cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease, the most common cause of dementia. Further, synapses are very adaptable and have the potential to contribute to cognitive recovery if we can prevent or reverse synaptic damage.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Henstridge, C. M., Hyman, B. T. and Spires-Jones, T. L.* (2019). Beyond the neuron-cellular interactions early in Alzheimer disease pathogenesis. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 20(2), 94-108. doi:10.1038/s41583-018-0113-1

Pickett, E. K., Rose, J., McCrory, C., McKenzie, C. A., King, D., Smith, C., Gillingwater, T. H., Henstridge, C. M. & Spires-Jones, T. L. Region-specific depletion of synaptic mitochondria in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease. Acta Neuropathol, doi:10.1007/s00401-018-1903-2 (2018).

Pickett, E. K., Henstridge, C. M., Allison, E., Pitstick, R., Pooler, A., Wegmann, S., Carlson, G., Hyman, B. T. & Spires-Jones, T. L. Spread of tau down neural circuits precedes synapse and neuronal loss in the rTgTauEC mouse model of early Alzheimer’s disease. Synapse 71, doi:10.1002/syn.21965 (2017).

Kay, K. R., Smith, C., Wright, A. K., Serrano-Pozo, A., Pooler, A. M., Koffie, R., Bastin, M. E., Bak, T. H., Abrahams, S., Kopeikina, K. J., McGuone, D., Frosch, M. P., Gillingwater, T. H., Hyman, B. T. & Spires-Jones, T. L. Studying synapses in human brain with array tomography and electron microscopy. Nat Protoc 8, 1366-1380, doi:10.1038/nprot.2013.078 (2013).

Koffie, R. M., Hashimoto, T., Tai, H. C., Kay, K. R., Serrano-Pozo, A., Joyner, D., Hou, S., Kopeikina, K. J., Frosch, M. P., Lee, V. M., Holtzman, D. M., Hyman, B. T. & Spires-Jones, T. L. Apolipoprotein E4 effects in Alzheimer’s disease are mediated by synaptotoxic oligomeric amyloid-beta. Brain : a journal of neurology 135, 2155-2168, doi:10.1093/brain/aws127 (2012).

Why is FENS important for European and global neuroscience?

FENS provides key support for European and Global neuroscience through advocacy for funding, raising public awareness of the importance of neuroscience, providing networking and meeting opportunities, and advertising jobs!

FENS, Neuroscience conference, congress, forum

Guillaume Rousselet

At a glance at a face: early visual processing in young and older adults

Please introduce the learning objectives of your lecture.

– to describe strategies to quantify processing speed from EEG data in individual participants and estimate cross-sectional age-related differences;

– to present how sparse stimulus sampling combined with reverse-correlation can be used to reveal the time-course of single-trial EEG sensitivity to stimulus information.

Why is this topic important?

To understand cognitive ageing, we need to go beyond differences in average behaviour and brain activity, to understand what, where and when task-specific stimulus information is processed in individual participants. In this talk I describe methods to quantify the time-course and information content of brain activity, with the ultimate goal to reveal individual differences in brain activity and how they relate to behaviour.

What are the recommended readings ahead of your lecture?

Early ERPs to faces: aging, luminance, and individual differences,

Healthy aging delays the neural processing of face features relevant for behavior by 40 ms,